Rev. Canon Emmanuel Idike (1940-2017) motivator and social reformer
Rev. Canon Dr. Emmanuel Ezechinemerihe Idike, who died on December 22, 2017, was born on October 11, 1940 to the family of the late Didigwu Idike and Lolo Uzuenyi Onugwu Orieshu Idike of Umudinweji, Amabokwu, Aku, Igbo-Etiti Local Government Area of Enugu State, Nigeria. He obtained his first degree in Philosophy from the University of Lagos in 1981. He was a teacher at St. Cyprian’s Teachers’ Training College, Nsukka and St. Cyprian’s Special Science School, Nsukka, where he taught several young students and motivated them in life. His mentorship strategy and style of teaching were exceptional and made the students inseparable from him.
Idike did not stop at his first degree even at an advanced age. He was a fighter, a big thinker and never gave up. He persevered and took his fight to the higher echelon of the academia. He went for his Master’s degree in the reputable University of Nigeria, Nsukka and obtained a Master’s Degree in Philosophy in 1987. The title of his Master’s thesis was “The Good Life for Man in the Aristotelian and African Ethics”. He was not satisfied with a Master’s degree and went for a Ph.D programme in the same institution and conducted an interesting doctoral research on the life and times of the great Zik of Africa, the first President of Nigeria, Rt. Hon. Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, whom he interviewed severally. The title of his Ph.D dissertation was “The Political Philosophy of Nnamdi Azikiwe”.
Idike was blessed with the ultimate prize in education when he bagged his Ph.D in Philosophy in 1993. He later published his Ph.D dissertation in the form of a book, titled “Zikism: The Political Philosophy of Nnamdi Azikiwe.” The book was published in the year 2000 and is a resource material for scholars, researchers and practitioners in the area of political philosophy, politics and political governance in Africa.
He was employed by the University of Nigeria, Nsukka in 1992 as a lecturer in the Philosophy Department, where he rose to the position of a senior lecturer. He published several books, articles and scholar works and retired from the service of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka in 2006.
He was ordained a priest in the Anglican Communion by the then Bishop of Nsukka Anglican Diocese, His Lordship, the Rt. Rev. Jonah T. Ilonuba on July 7, 1996. He was elevated to a canon on August 12, 2007. Idike married his heartthrob, Adaoma Nkechinyere Idike and they are blessed with seven children. His children are all graduates, who emulated their father, working hard in life and at the same time engaging in community service.
Idike was phenomenal and outstanding. He was a man of many great parts. He lived round the clock aspiring to attain excellence and perfection in all his actions and thoughts. As a teacher, he motivated so many lives and impacted souls positively.
In his early years, on his own, without pay, he gathered village children to teach them Western education and to raise their awareness about education. He taught in the kindergarten, the primary school, the secondary school, teachers’ college and capped his teaching career in the university as an excellent don.
He was a great teacher, motivator, counsellor and a great disciplinarian and a key member of the Boys Scout. His students have achieved great careers in life and have been driven by the virtues, which Rev. Canon Idike inculcated in them. As Henry Adams, foremost American historian, stated in his ‘Pulitzer’ prizewinning autobiography, “The Education of Henry Adams” (1919), “A teacher affects eternity; no one can tell where a teacher’s influence stops”. The same can be said of Rev. Canon Dr. Emma Idike, an instructor, a mentor, a motivator and a teacher, whose positive influence straddles across communities, towns, cities, states, schools and universities in Nigeria.
Idike was an outstanding man of God. His spiritual level was so high that anyone that came near him was in one way or the other affected by his spiritual lifestyle. He was an effective Sunday school anchor, member of the church choir, catechist, student fellowship leader at the university, Diocesan Secretary of Evangelical Fellowship in the Anglican Communion, a priest and a canon in the Anglican Church spanning over 50 years in different communities and states in Nigeria.
He built a church in his village, Amabokwu, Aku, which he, himself, christened St. Paul’s Anglican Church. Though an Anglican priest, he maintained close friendship with many Catholic priests. His philosophy was etched in religious ecumenism. He distanced himself from religious bigotry and was more driven by the achievement of a personal and spiritual relationship with God.
He was elected the Chairman of the Aku General Assembly, the highest political, social and legislative office in Aku in 1987. His tenure lasted between 1987 and 1990. Idike was a remarkable community reformist, social crusader and a moral reformer. He was a pragmatic leader. He showcased these qualities when he employed his oratorical skills, biblical passages and intense persuasion to convince Aku people to forgo a crude practice in the use of “Odu” in flushing those who poison others to death and hardened criminals out of the society and then banishing them or burying them alive. Odu remained banned till this day and those traditional seers who performed Odu and fed fat on traditional gifts and money for their infamous services lost their trade while Aku town became better with several lives saved and injustice and inhumanity avoided.He was indeed the leaders’ leader and a symbol of perfect leadership.
He was an outstanding community leader and a peacemaker, arguably deserving of a posthumous peace award. He enthroned peace and provided purposeful leadership in Aku at a time Aku town had one of its greatest challenges in the annals of its history– the then impending cultural-religious war between Christians and Odo worshippers, which almost threatened its existence.
In Aku, the cultural festivities that herald the departure of Odo masquerades as they return to the spirit world after a stay of about five months with Aku people (the “Ula Odo”) are not to be witnessed by women, but in that occasion, in 1989 Ula Odo fell on a Sunday, an ‘Nkwo’ market day, meaning Christians, including women, were to go to church on the said Sunday and there was tension in the land that women might witness the said cultural festival as Odo took its journey home. Both the Odo masquerade faithful and the Christians maintained their different positions and geared for a war.
Through his mediation and biblical exhortations, Christians agreed to attend Church on the said Sunday early enough and retreat to their homes and the Odo masquerade followers also agreed that initial activities of the Odo masquerades’ departure be restricted to their homes (“Uham”) and only depart at a certain time in the afternoon after Christians had gone home from church services. The issue was resolved without a fight or any soul lost and both Christians and Odo Masquerade faithful continue to peacefully co-exist. This occurred as a result of his amiable and rare conciliatory expertise along with biblical passages that speak to the crisis.
He also proposed the idea, formulated and concretised engagements with relevant agencies for the approval of the establishment of Aku Diewa Community Development Bank (ADICOMB)
During his tenure as AGA chairman, he worked tirelessly to restore electricity in Aku and often repaired the Egbugwu water works to ensure regular supply of pipe borne water to the entire community. He was indeed the leaders’ leader and a symbol of perfect leadership.
Idike is a Lagos-based lawyer
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